Here we are again! We are all lockdown experts by now, but it has been some time since we were in the strict environment of Level 4.
Many parents who share the care of their children may have questions regarding their custody arrangements, and just how these arrangements will work during Level 4. Likewise, new care issues may arise during this lockdown period.
Firstly, we want you to know that we are thinking of you. We are here to chat if you have any concerns or need someone to talk to. In the meantime, below are some helpful guidelines, which are based on information we have at hand from the Ministry of Justice. If any of this information changes or new information comes to hand, we will post updates to keep you fully informed.
Guidelines for shared care custody arrangements:
- The overriding consideration is for parents to make decisions that are in the best interests of their children, but also taking account of the below points.
- The intention behind being in a Level 4 lockdown is to prevent the spread of COVID-19; staying home saves lives.
- Where there is a shared care arrangement and the families are in different towns or communities, the safety of the children and others in their family units should not be compromised by movements between homes.
- Parents in the same community can continue to move children between homes, provided:
- There are only two homes involved. For blended families, the children will need to remain with the parent who has care of the children when lockdown commenced.
- The child is healthy. If a child is unwell, then the child should not travel between homes until they are well.
- All other people in the home are also healthy. If any other person in the home is unwell, then the children should not travel between homes.
- No-one within the home has been overseas in the past 14 days, has been in close contact with someone who has the virus, or is being tested.
- If a child is moving between homes:
- At all times, they need to be accompanied by an adult.
- Private vehicles are to be used.
- Drop-off is to be in an open location with no other people, preferably to the other parent’s home.
- If a child is not moving between homes:
- There is an expectation that the children will have generous indirect contact with the other parent, including phone, video calling and social media messaging.
The courts and minister have asked parents to be understanding to the situation we find ourselves in. Again, these are unprecedented times. These restrictions are put in place to save lives, which could also very well mean the lives of your families, if these measures are not successful. The courts have also asked that “Parents put aside their conflict at this time and make decisions that are in the best interests of their child, and their families and the wider community. This global pandemic should not be seen as an opportunity for parents to unilaterally change established care arrangements without cause or otherwise behave in a manner inconsistent with the child’s best interests or the court- ordered care arrangements.”
Give our family law team a call if you need advice. You can contact us here, or at email@example.com.